Remarks to the Press by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin following the UN Security Council Consultations of Syria
Q.: Minister, what was in focus of the Security Council?
A.: Thank you so much. We discussed the humanitarian situation in Syria yesterday and the political settlement, political track today. For sure, we discussed the situation in Idlib and we reiterated the commitment of the Russian Federation to implement the agreement that we have reached with Turkey, I mean the Sochi Agreement on ceasefire in Idlib that was signed last year.
At the same time, our obligation is to fight terrorists. Now we have to say that the territory of the de-escalation zone in Idlib is under control of the terrorist organization that is called ‘Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’. It is on the list of terrorist organizations that is established and adopted by the UNSC. When we witnessed attacks against Syrian civilians, governmental forces and the Russian military base in Khmeimim these days, we could not but counter attack. We will continue to do it, but we will only counter attack these terrorist organizations and sites from where those attacks are launched.
Q.: Why are you bombing hospitals?
A.: We do not bomb hospitals. Please be very much cautious and double-check all the sources of information that you quote. We can tell you that what we do is smart and targeted operations against terrorists in the Idlib de-escalation zone. To fight them is an obligation of the international community.
Q.: There are sources in OCHA. We heard Ursula Mueller, who is Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, say that 22 medical facilities had been hit. Was she incorrect?
A.: Once again, I call upon you to double-check all the information that you quote about these so called bombardments.
Q.: Do you also mean information coming from the UN?
A.: Yes, all information should be double-checked, including the information coming from the UN. The United Nations has its own sources of information, which we respect. We also have our sources. Let me tell you that we proceed against terrorism in a very smart and targeted way. We only target terrorists.
Q.: The U.S. Ambassador said there was an agreement between President Putin, Foreign Minister Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo when there was a meeting in Sochi on step-by-step process to implement resolution 2254. However, Ambassador Jeffrey said he had not seen any steps taken to start this implementation. What needs to be the first steps and who should be doing this?
A.: Thank you for this one. Let me elaborate that this is about the recent talks in Sochi between Secretary of State Pompeo and Foreign Minister Lavrov. As you know, after that Secretary Pompeo was received by President Putin. Let me say that we consider the talks in Sochi to have been positive and constructive. We are ready to coordinate our efforts, i.a. with American partners on the basis of our shared commitment to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Syria. Now it is not only about who should make the first step, but it is about the common vision of how we want to have a sustainable political settlement in Syria that would be accepted by all Syrians, by the region and endorsed by the UN Security Council.